Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And Repeat: Zuppa verde con la salsiccia (Green Soup with Sausage)

An idealist is one who, on noticing roses smell better than cabbage, concludes that it will make a better soup. – H.L. Mencken

Tons of much better can it get?
This is a repeat from about a year ago, I have to confess. But sometimes – especially when the weather's cold – you just need a hearty soup. This one with chunks of delicious Italian sausage hits the spot. And it's so easy.

One of my favourites ways to use sausage is with peppers and tomato sauce, either on pasta or on top of toasted Italian bread with tons of grated cheese. Mozzarella or parmesan will do. I'm not fussy! 

This “zuppa verde” recipe is another favourite of mine. It really makes you feel warm and "comforted" inside.

The soffritto. Important aromatics to build the soup's flavour.
I made a vegetarian Genovese minestrone a while ago and posted the recipe (HERE). It was amazing. It was composed of lots of different vegetables and used pesto for “seasoning.” 

I had a table full of relatives in town for dinner before we went downtown to the New Year's Eve fireworks. Several of them had different dietary needs so it was a bit of a challenge, but I did it! The minestrone was a massive hit. One of my aunt-in-laws still comments on it. 

This zuppa is not a traditional Italian recipe, unless you call me a traditional Italian (which I am not). This recipe is entirely my fault.

I made this recipe after thinking about how good that minestrone was. It had two very Italian flavouring agents: soffritto and pesto. Why not turn them into a sausage soup?

Soffritto is an age-old technique in Italian cooking. It is a sauté of a very specific list of “aromatic” vegetables. Soffritto is also common in the cuisine of many other cultures. In Spain it is sofrito and in France mirepoix. In each country the vegetable combination is slightly different. This very easy technique of lightly browning vegetables is a great way to introduce their flavour and nutrients to dishes.

The broth for this soup is thin. If you wish you could add 1/2 cup of very well mashed leftover potato (no lumps), or perhaps—God forbid—1/4 cup of instant potato flakes to give it a little more body. I actually really like instant potato flakes. Just think of them as something other than potato and you're fine.

Be careful with the salt. Depending on your pesto and chicken stock you may very well have enough salt to satisfy your taste already.

If you’re really into it, you could make your own homemade pesto. It's very easy. There's a great recipe for pesto here. It's from, a wonderful resource for any cook. Go and poke around. Some of my recipes are even posted there. But just a few...

The soffritto, stock, sausage and orzo cook together.
Zuppa verde con la salsiccia (Green Soup with Sausage)
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 4
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1 cup pesto
salt and pepper to taste
fresh grated parmesan

Place the whole sausages and oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven. Add about 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil. Let the sausage cook until the water is absorbed, turning once. The sausage will lightly brown after the water evaporates. Remove and set aside.

Stir in the pesto at the last minute, just before serving.
Turn the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, carrot and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until well wilted and slightly browned. This is your soffritto, flavour base number one.

Once cool enough to handle, slice the sausage lengthways and chop into “manageable to eat” pieces. Add back to the pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Once the broth has come to a boil stir in the orzo and let cook for the recommended time. This is usually 8 minutes, but check you package!

After the pasta has cooked, turn the heat to medium and add the pesto (flavour base number two). Stir to combine, warm through and remove from the heat. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more pepper.


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